Club Insider

Member Onboarding:

Welcoming or Overwhelming?

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Jeffrey PinkertonJeffrey Pinkerton

Imagine you walk into a clothing store. You are greeted "Hi. Welcome in. Is there anything we can help you find?" Your reflex response, "No, just looking, thanks." Most people have this same response, even if they do, in fact, need help. But, what if, when you walk in, instead of simply being greeted, you are invited (required, actually) to sit down and discuss your wardrobe and fashion goals? Whisked off on a full store tour then to a special desk and asked questions about your past clothes-buying experiences, your current wardrobe situation and your personal style preferences. They weigh you, take measurements and do a full body scan to customize their recommendations and give you the "most important" stats. It's an overwhelming thought and one that might just keep you from ever walking into the store at all.

What Brings You In Today?

You walked into that store knowing you desperately needed new clothes. You've put it off for a few years. Your current clothes are old and dated and don't fit quite right. It's so bad, in fact, your significant other has told you that you really need to do something about it.

Likewise, a prospective member walks into your club. They know they desperately need to start exercising. They've put it off for a few years. They are feeling sluggish and tired and unmotivated, and nothing feels quite right. Their doctor has told them they really need to do something about it.

Insert your energetic, fit salesperson. "What brings you in today?" followed by a lengthy tour and (required, actually) sit-down discussion, open-ended questions, goal setting and body scanning. Is it all necessary? Just to try on a workout? We know why people are there and can predict their answers – they want to "tone up," get in shape, lose weight, feel better.

Maybe you're still following the old trial attorney advice to, "never ask a question unless you know the answer." But, the questions (interrogation) probably create more tension than trust.

There Are No Bad Questions, Only Bad Websites

Of course, people visit your website during their investigation process, asking, "what can this place do for me?" If they are like me, they'll check out your website, your social media channels and your Google reviews. Maybe they don't know exactly what they are looking for; they just know they need to exercise.

But, too many health club websites tell people what the club has, not what the member can expect. It's all about the facility and not about the member experience. As an experiment, I Googled "health clubs near me," clicked around on the first page of results and found the common culprits – a list of equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, squat racks), a $1 joining fee, a $0 joining fee, a list of amenities, one offer to schedule a phone call (no thanks) and a few offers for a free day pass (phone number required, so again, no thanks).

But, does an equipment list really answer anyone's questions? I know some of these things may be on your website for SEO purposes, but they aren't the things that help people make the leap from curious-website-surfer to walk-in-the-door prospect.

Back to the clothing store, what if its website boasted, "We have clothes! And fitting rooms!" Of course they do. That won't get you in the door or set them apart from competitors. But, "feel great, find something for every occasion, you'll love high-fashion favorites, discover new trends at easy prices" messages tell you what you can expect if you go in.

Onboarding Online - Let Your Website Do the Work

Primer, a digital marketing agency with a great blog, introduced me to the idea of Buyer Decision Questions (BDQs) – the questions that people need to know the answers to before making the decision to purchase your product, fill out your form, etc. One of their keys to high-converting landing pages is anticipating the questions from your visitors and answering those questions early – the three most critical being price, how the product works and when users can expect positive results.

Does your website show prospective members how the "product" works? What they are actually going to do when they visit? What the member experience is like? Why your facility is better than the competition? And, why they should come in and give it a try? Shockingly, of all the websites that I visited after my Google search, only one had videos showing what they offered. When people visit your site, can they imagine themselves participating in what you are selling?

What Are You Actually Selling?

If you are selling the experience, you should reduce the hurdles, the time and the friction so prospective members can get to the experience as soon as possible.

I know the counter argument: we want to get to know people; we want them to connect with our staff; we want to introduce them to other members; we want to check in with them before their first workout and follow up after; we want to make sure they feel welcome, are greeted by name, experience a workout that is catered to their fitness level; and that they feel as successful as possible as soon as possible.

I don't disagree. And, I know the single step solution: send them to a group fitness workout, one that is inclusive (all fitness levels, various musical tastes), high quality (well-designed and tested), taught by an engaging, energetic, empathetic instructor (frankly, the only kind you should employ).

In clothing, in fitness, in any service business, the best service we can provide is letting someone know before they visit what they can expect – what they'll experience and how they'll feel. And, when they visit, delivering it in a simple and satisfying (not stressful) way. Let them walk in, welcome them, answer their questions and let them try on some great group fitness workouts to see what fits.

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To learn how MOSSA can help your club deliver amazing group fitness experiences – the kind that can turn your group fitness department into an engaging community of longtime, loyal movers – visit our website ( And, before you talk to a MOSSA salesperson, who is probably going to ask you some questions, check out a 5-minute video all about why clubs choose to partner with us. To watch the video, visit

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